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The Florida Bar

Resisting Arrest

Florida Laws on Resisting Arrest Without Violence

Resisting an officer without violence is one of the crimes that falls under the category of obstructing justice, and is considered a serious offense in Florida. Florida Statute 843.02 defines this offense as obstructing an officer, while he or she is executing duty. The officer in question can be law enforcement officer, correctional officer, probation officer, or a person who is legally authorized to execute a legal process. For convicting a person with the charge of resisting without violence, the prosecution must prove:

  • The person intentionally opposed, obstructed, or resisted the officer.
  • The officer was executing his or her legal duty or legal process at that time.
  • The perpetrator knew the person to be an officer when the incident took place.
Instances of Resisting an Officer Without Violence

Here are some common instances, which can lead to allegations of resisting an officer without violence:

  1. Refusing to obey verbal commands of the officer
  2. Refusing to leave a place when asked to do so by an officer
  3. Struggling against the officer during detention
  4. Any action that tries to deter the officer’s attempt to handcuff the person
  5. Encouraging other people to obstruct or interfere with the activities of the officer/s
  6. Fleeing the scene when asked to stop by an officer
  7. Providing false information when questions are asked by the officer
  8. Tampering or concealing evidence

Resisting an officer without violence is considered a first degree misdemeanor offense in Florida, and the penalties are more severe for repeat offenders. A first time offender can be penalized with $1,000 fine, one year probation, one year jail sentence or a combination of these penalties. This conviction will also remain forever on the person’s criminal record.

Constitutional Rights

The constitution has provided rights to people for resisting any unlawful conduct of the police. Therefore people can legally resist officer without violence when the arrest in unlawful.
To determine if constitutional rights were violated the following aspects will have to be considered:

  1. Was the detention lawful?
  2. What statements were made by the detained person during the event?
  3. Did the officer read the Miranda rights to the detained person?
  4. Did the officer use illegal means to obtain information from the detained person?
Pre-Trial Diversion Program

The Office of the State Attorney offers a Pre-trial Diversion program to people arrested for resisting an officer without violence. To qualify for this program the offender’s past record is considered, and admission to the program involves four steps:

  1. The trial attorney assigned to the case by the Officer of State Attorney must give approval
  2. The supervisor of the trial attorney should give approval
  3. The concerned police officer should give approval
  4. The offender must pass all background checks

On successful approval to the pre-trial diversion program, the offender can complete this program and have the “resisting an officer without violence” charges dropped.


There are several defenses available for challenging the charge of resisting without violence. Usually the defense tries to establish that the officer was not involved in executing legal duty at the time of the incident. The encounter can be shown to happen consensually between the defendant and the officer, and the detention was unlawful. If this is established then the act of not co-operating or providing false information does not arise.

Florida’s legal system recognizes the right of an individual to resist unlawful arrest, and therefore another strong defense would be proving that the detention was unlawful. If it is found that there was no reasonable suspicion or probable cause to make the detention, then the defendant had the right to resist such arrest. Other defenses will depend on the circumstances and events surrounding the situation.  -Broward Crime Lawyer William R. Moore

Florida Statute

It’s important that anyone who has been arrested or charged with a crime in the South Florida area, contact Attorney William R. Moore, who has experience in all kinds of criminal defense cases, including sex crimes and DUI. The impact of a conviction for a felony or misdemeanor can have consequences on your freedom, your employment, and your personal life.

For more information about this type of case contact:
Defense Attorney William R. Moore
 (954) 523-5333

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